What Can I Bring? How About an App?

Before I was a mother, I remember being completely tongue-tied when my colleagues would bring their kids to work and swing by my office for an introduction.  How do I engage a toddler? I always wondered. What do I say to a kindergartener?  Is it sending the wrong message to tell a six-year-old that I like the head-to-toe hot pink ensemble she’s got going on? My default line ended up being something like “What are you going to be for Halloween?” Even if it was the middle of spring, this usually proved to be endless fodder for conversation. Imagine how much easier it would’ve been if I could’ve just opened up my Action Hero app! Not that he wasn’t already their friend for life, but when our pal Jim showed the girls how to make their own movies with blockbuster effects — see Abby’s directorial debut above, missle-ing her parents while they innocently hang out in Grandma’s kitchen — he instantly became their favorite friend for life. And that’s tough, because a lot of our dinner guests lately have been coming over not with wine or dessert, but with some exciting new iTunes discovery, which I’m embarrassed to say, was way more appreciated than the Sancerre. Here are the latest:

Action Hero According to Apple it’s the number one downloaded free entertainment app on iTunes right now, so you probably already own it. (Begging the question: Why didn’t you guys tell me about it???) It was created by J.J. Abrams of “Lost” fame and you get to overlay selected special effects — missiles, falling cars, tornados, choppers, demolition rocks — on your home videos. All weekend long, wherever we went — my parents’ house, restaurants, Dick’s Sporting Goods — we couldn’t help create catastrophic scenarios. PS: Obviously, please use your judgment on age here. Probably a little too much for kids under 5 or 6 who are just now getting used to the big scary shark in Nemo.

La Di Da My friend Kate introduced this one to us. You make up a song — literally any kind of song, the sillier the words the better — then punch a bunch of buttons and you have all the makings of a hit single. (Which, according to John Seabrook, is apparently not that much different from how they make Top 40 songs these days.)

Morfo Kids get to take pictures of themselves or their friends then morph the image with crazy eyes, lips, hairdos. I like to use it to imagine myself with shorter or longer hair, but, of course, the girls just add as many crazy features — nose rings, pink wigs, huge freaky eyes, disco moves — as they possibly can.

Rising Card Magic Trick By far my favorite of the group. Our neighbor Seth first performed the trick in front of the girls resulting in all four of us — not just the kids — screaming What The…How The…?? Like a true magician, he didn’t reveal the way it works (so I won’t here), but as soon as he left we downloaded the app and committed the act to memory. It’s so satisfying to get the exact same astonished reaction from whatever poor soul has agreed to participate. I’m not going to say anymore except that I promise you, it will be your new favorite party trick.

I’m almost afraid to ask, but if you have any good suggestions, I — I mean my kids — would love to hear about them.

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My 5 year old daughter LOVES Hair Salon by Toca Boca and would really love for me to get Toca Kitchen, which is probably really appropriate for your family!


LOL. My kids have been ‘blowing up’ everything in sight with Action Hero. My favorite so far was launching a missile at the Zamboni while at the ice rink. Ha. I have two boys, so I guess it’s to be expected.
Great app recs…those are all faves in our house too.


I will have to check out Action Hero… my oldest daughter would get a kick out of that. Our favorite apps:
7 Little Words
Plants vs. Zombies
Words with Friends
Cut the Rope
Temple Run
Angry Birds
Helsings Fire
Where’s My Water?
Glow Puzzle
Fruit Ninja


Just tried out Action Movie FX! Thanks for suggesting it. It is hilarious. I just made a movie of a missile blowing up my husband’s “midlife crisis” sports car. 🙂 The kids will love this when they get home from school!

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag

FUN!!! I think I would never do anything productive again if I got my hands on the Action Hero thingy — I’d be busily putting explosions in all our home videos! I LOVE IT!

I think my daughter is really liking ‘Talking Carl’ — I think that’s the name? –wherein you speak a few words and then your words are magically made to sound funny in a strange voice coming out of the cat’s mouth. My 6 yr old LOVES it.